On August 8, 2012, the Canyon Soil Conservation District held a tour to show off some of their 319 grant projects. Canyon SCD was kind enough to extend an invitation to IASCD.
In 2009, the Lower Boise Watershed Council (LWBC) and the Canyon SCD partnered in sponsoring a 319 Grant to improve water quality on the Boise River and its tributaries. The quality of the Boise River was being compromised by sediment, phosphorous, and bacteria. 319 grants provide technical and financial assistance for agricultural producers and operators through Best Management Practices (BMPs). The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Idaho Soil and Water Conservation Commission (SWC) provide technical support.
Our first stop was Bob McKellip’s mint field. A drop irrigation system was installed on Mr. McKellip’s 37 acre mint field. Using the Surface Irrigation Soil Loss Program (SISL), the old surface irrigation system on silt loam soil lost over 3 tons per acre per year. This equals 187 tons per year, or 749 tons of soil lost over four years. Mr. McKellip’s field drains into Five Mile Creek, which later drains into the Boise River.
Drip tape is buried 6 to 8 inches below the soil, so the water goes directly to the root of the plant. This method allows Mr. McKellip to use half the water, fertilizer, and pesticide than he used previously. The drip system is also uniform across the 37-acre field, allowing equal distribution of water from one end of the field to the other.
After finishing at Mr. McKellip’s field, we drove past another mint field less than a mile away. This field was planted at the same time as Mr. McKellip’s crop, but uses surface irrigation methods. There were obvious differences in these two mint crops: Mr. McKellip’s mint was greener, bigger, and had no weeds!
Check back tomorrow for our next stop!